Neither scenario is beyond the realm of possibility.
How many times in the wake of a bombing or shooting have we discovered that the alleged terrorist was known to the FBI and yet still managed to slip through their radar?
Then again, it could be that this is yet another terrorist of the FBI's own making.
The FBI has a long, sordid history of inventing crimes, breeding criminals and helping to hatch and then foil terrorist plots in order to advance its own sordid agenda: namely, amassing greater powers under the guise of fighting the war on terrorism.
Investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson argues convincingly that "the FBI is much better at creating terrorists than it is at catching terrorists." According to Aaronson's calculations, the FBI is responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al Qaeda, al Shabaab and the Islamic State combined.
One method to the agency's madness involves radicalizing impressionable young men in order to create and then "catch" terrorists. Under the guise of rooting out terrorists before they strike, the FBI targets mentally ill or impressionable individuals (many of whom are young and have no prior connection to terrorism), indoctrinates them with anti-American propaganda, pays criminals $100,000 per case to act as informants and help these would-be terrorists formulate terror plots against American targets, provides them with weapons and training, and then arrests them for being would-be terrorists. This is entrapment, plain and simple, or what former FBI director Robert Mueller referred to as a policy of "forward leaning -- preventative -- prosecutions."
Whether or not the crisis of the moment--in this case, the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub--is a legitimate act of terrorism or manufactured by some government agency or other, it's hard not to feel as if we're being manipulated and maneuvered by entities that know exactly which buttons to push to ensure our compliance and complaisance.
Already the politicians are talking about the next steps.
President Obama wants to restrict gun sales to American citizens. Of course, the U.S. government will continue to increase its production of and sales of weapons worldwide.
Citing the need for an intelligence surge, Hillary Clinton wants to pressure technology companies to help the government conduct expanded online surveillance of potential extremist attackers. Of course, we already know how the government defines a potential extremist: as anyone--right-wing or left-wing--who disagrees with government policies and challenges government authority.
Meanwhile FBI Director James Comey is urging Americans to report anything they see that may be "suspicious." There's also been a lot of talk about individuals who are "radicalized through the internet." This comes on the heels of efforts by the Obama administration to allow the FBI to access a person's Internet browser history and other electronic data without a warrant.
This is the same agency that is rapidly hoovering up as much biometric data as it can (DNA, iris scans, facial scans, tattoos) in order to create a massive database that identifies each citizen, tracks their movements, connects them to relatives and associates, and assigns them threat assessments based on their potential to become anti-government troublemakers, "extremists" or terrorists of any kind.
Suddenly it's all starting to make a lot more sense, isn't it?
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, what we're witnessing is the case being made for the government to shift even more aggressively into the business of pre-crime: monitoring all Americans, identifying which individuals could become potentially "anti-government," and eliminating the danger before it can pose a threat to the powers-that-be.
In this way, whether fabricated or real, these attacks serve a larger purpose, which is to give the government even greater powers to wage war, spy on its citizens, and expand the size and reach of the government.
The 9/11 attacks delivered up a gift-wrapped Patriot Act to the nation's law enforcement agencies.
The Orlando attacks may well do away with what little Fourth Amendment protections remain to us in the face of aggressive government surveillance.